The Islamabad High Court (IHC) observed on Tuesday that the court cannot "bulldoze everything" in the absence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from the country.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani heard the pleas of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar against the decisions in the Avenfield, Al-Azizia and Flagship references initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
During the hearing, Justice Farooq asked senior legal expert PML-N Senator Azam Nazir Tarar on who will represent Nawaz Sharif [if his plea is heard].
The Senator replied, "Courts delays [decisions on] appeals so that the requirements of justice can be met. Nawaz' case is different from others and a representative cannot be appointed for him."
"Instead of appointing a representative for Nawaz Sharif, [the court may] reject the appeal concerning non-representation," he suggested.
"Nawaz Sharif can have the case reopened or take another course of action in the case when he returns," Senator Tarar maintained.
Justice Farooq asked the NAB prosecutor: "Maryam Nawaz' lawyer has asked for a delay in the case. There are two other appeals; how should we proceed with them?"
At this, the prosecutor, while somewhat agreeing with Tarar, said, "A representative can't be appointed for Nawaz Sharif." He asked the court to reject Nawaz' pleas. "Whether there is a pleader or not, the court can make a decision. It can also do so on the basis of the case's record."
Justice Kiyani added that, "There are also instances where the court annulled an acquittal and handed a sentence."
Justice Farooq added, "We are making efforts to ensure that all requirements of a transparent trial are met. We can't bulldoze everything in Nawaz Sharif's absence. We have to make a decision as per the law"
The court sought the lawyers' viewpoint over whether Nawaz's plea should be heard, subsequently adjourning the hearing till June 9.
Nawaz Sharif has challenged the conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references, while Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar have challenged the sentences in the Avenfield reference.
NAB, on the other hand, challenged Nawaz' acquittal in the flagship reference. The authority also sought an increase in the sentence given to the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference.
The IHC earlier declared the PML-N supremo an absconder due to his absence from the proceedings of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield reference.
Last month, the IHC had asked as to who will be the pleader for the former prime minister when the court will take up appeals against his conviction in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases given the fact that Sharif has been declared a proclaimed offender in both the cases.
The bench noted that Nawaz Sharif is now a proclaimed offender and the court will have to decide his appeals on merit. The IHC asked NAB to assist the court on this question.
The IHC on December 2, 2020 finally declared former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender after the PML-N supreme leader ignored all summonses and proclamations of the bench that was originally formed to hear appeals against his conviction in two graft cases.